There's No 'Joe' Glow for New Fox Reality Show
Tue Mar 4, 9:12 PM ET
By Rick Kissell
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Young adult audiences chose NBC's "Fear Factor" and "Meet My Folks" over Fox's premiering "Married by America" on Monday in a key reality show battle that could determine the networks' seasonlong race for first place.
Fox figured to need boffo numbers from "Married" to catch NBC for the season in adults 18-49, but viewers weren't exactly throwing out rice for the series opener. The two-hour premiere netted a third-place 4.1 rating/10 share in the coveted demo.
The relatively slow start for "Married" -- the show that has the tough task of following "Joe Millionaire" in Fox's Monday reality wheel -- suggests that not every unscripted series can be an out-of-the box smash. Same night also saw ABC's 15-night unscripted "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" limp closer to its conclusion with more soft numbers.
From 9 to 10, its regular slot, "Married" placed third in the demo (4.0/9, 8.67 million viewers overall) -- behind NBC's combo of "Fear Factor" and "Meet My Folks" (6.3/15) and repeats of CBS laffers "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Still Standing" (5.2/12). Ratings for "Married" also tailed off in its final half-hour.
While these would certainly be respectable premiere numbers for most series -- it topped ABC's "The Practice" (2.7/6) and far exceeded what Fox's dismal "Girls Club" averaged last fall (2.3/5) -- they pale next to "Joe Millionaire," a limited-run megahit that produced some of the biggest ratings in Fox history.
Fox hopes that the seven-week "Married" can generate more viewer interest in coming weeks, as it shifts from more of a gameshow to a relationship series.
For its part, NBC matched its highest nonsports Monday 18-49 average in nearly four years (a first-place 6.2/15), as "Fear" scared up its second-best numbers of the season (7.0/18 in adults 18-49, 16.30 million) and "Meet My Folks" (5.4/13, 11.32 million) led from 9:30 to 11 in the demo.
NBC will enlist supersized editions of "Fear" and "Folks" this Monday.
It was another weak Monday for ABC, meanwhile, as the 13th night of "I'm a Celebrity" (2.8/7 in adults 18-49) joined "The Practice" (2.7/6) and "Miracles" (2.3/6) in running last among the major networks in their hours.